95 percent of Americans are under shelter in place orders to stop the spread of COVID-19, but the repercussions of loneliness can also be dangerous to our mental wellbeing. Calls to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline are up 300 percent. So how can we cope with loneliness during the pandemic? Standing up to the negative voice in your head in the first step.
It’s very easy, especially if you are isolating alone, to let your negative thoughts about yourself run wild. Spending time with others has positive physical and mental health effects because we are social creatures that crave interaction. So when we are alone, we succumb to the voice in our heads that may be telling us we are inadequate or that others don’t want to spend time with us. It’s time to confront this voice.
In addition to regular healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, and spending some time outdoors, make time to note the things that you are grateful for in your life and the things you are proud of. Journaling is a great way to do this or you can take a quiet moment to reflect on it in your day. If you’re feeling constantly overwhelmed by loneliness or hopelessness, you could also benefit from speaking to a mental health professional about what you are experiencing. You can consult your regular physician for a referral or find a therapist via Psychology Today.
In addition to confronting your own self-criticism, find ways to stay connected to those around you, even if you can’t meet in person. Video chat, phone calls, virtual game nights, and online book clubs are all excellent ways to feel a sense of companionship in isolation.
COVID-19 is exacerbating feelings of loneliness for many people, but isolation is an epidemic that has plagued Americans long before coronavirus came around. 61 percent of Americans over age 18 struggle with feeling lonely. Take time in your day to reconnect with those you love and confront the negative voices in your head. You may even develop a healthy routine you can stick to long after the shelter in place orders are lifted.